Final year complete

What, like it’s hard?

A few days ago I sat my final exams for my undergraduate law degree. Something terrifying, because now I’m unemployed, with no income and like an actual adult who’s maintenance loan will only last so long. Trying to navigate the work world with these illnesses is going to be terrifying and incredibly difficult. I’m scared of having to take too many sick days, scared of not taking the sick days and then producing work of a substandard quality.

It’s terrifying! Now as I’m writing this I may have a full time position to go to in the near  future, and I really hope so because this limbo – even only a few days in. That feeling that I should be working is awful.

Now as for third year. Wow. What a year. It has taken me a lot to stay mentally sane through it all. I new at the beginning I had to sacrifice everything outside of my degree to make it through with my chronic illnesses and I did. And even then, it was tough. The one thing I’ve learnt is sacrificing your entire life is absolutely not what you should do. I feel like I have no friends, I feel like I’ve missed out and that’s okay. It just hurts sometimes.

Academically it has been one of the most challenging of years, suddenly everyone in my classes actively cares and by caring they are so much more intelligent than me and my chronically ill body could ever be. And it’s been difficult to deal with but I have. It’s time to really learn that comparison is the thief of joy, and everyone is on their own journey and everyone has these feelings. I’m saying this about others when I know for a fact atleast some of those others think I’m so much better than them. And then there’s the academics teaching me who are both incredible in their field (for the uni I go to) and have written a million and one papers on the topics we’ve been studying. Fair to say seminars felt a little intimidating sometimes. I even had one who, just the way she spoke to me in class when I contributed made me feel stupid.

Just because I have a different opinion doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Just because I have a different opinion it doesn’t mean I haven’t considered the other arguments. Maybe it’s just the nature of law school, maybe she was just playing devils advocate. It probably wasn’t personal, and if it was then shame on her.

This year we had an increased workload due to that all important dissertation. I printed it the wrong way once so I still have a copy sitting above my desk. It’s very cringeworthy on reflection, I haven’t even bought myself to read it again since submission. I know it won’t get the grade I hope for it, but I also still hope it does. Because on effort alone it deserves it. Unfortunately we’re not marked for effort. We’re marked for content. My dissertation was my baby. It was also meant to be. It came to me, out of nowhere, having not even previously studied the subject area, but knowing some basic information in a session about choosing topics for our proposals. I put it as second choice because since A levels I always thought I was going to write a criminal law dissertation, so I put that proposal first. It came to me. And I loved it. Don’t get me wrong, there were tears, both stress tears and emotional overwhelm tears. But I can say that I enjoyed the process and I would happily do it again.

This year we had free choice over the modules we took and I can say I made the right choice. Yes evidence was hell. Evidence is a complicated module and all of the lectures were at the end of a long day of lectures so I can’t say that they went in very well.

Thank god for recordings,  right?

But it was still interesting and I absolutely fell in love with my other modules. Sentencing was a challenge because other than the actual sentencing part there wasn’t much actual law going on, but it lived up to it’s expectations in being the module I knew I had to study. I then took family law and children and the law, which in some universities is just one family law module. Yes they’re that similar. I fell in love with these two modules more than I ever thought I would. So good modules, good year. Grades may not say the same…. but I really hope they do because again effort.

But I’ve actually learnt things this year. Not just remember and regurgitate for an exam. I’ve learnt things non-academically too. I’ve learnt how important it is to take a break. Even if that just running some errands on campus for 10 minutes. I’ve learnt that I need to be more confident and in a way I have. But I’m still not there. As someone who previously had no self confidence it’s a very long learning curve to become confident – but I need to, because it is that confidence that shines through and makes others believe in you.

I’ve learnt I can be anything I want to be, and albeit late, if I want to apply for the LPC (with LLM) because it makes it cheaper – or SQE if that’s happening and I delay it for a couple of years in the location of new potential job or anywhere for that matter then I can do and I will do and providing I can get a place I can make it work. Just maybe somewhat unconventionally because there’s nothing conventional about working full time and studying part time with chronic fatigue syndrome and others. But if I want to be a lawyer, if I want to pursue law in the future, which I really really think I do. And It’s in my heart and the reason I didn’t want to before was because I didn’t have the confidence. Yes I’m behind, have no work experience (in law) etc and it’ll be hard but hopefully I’ll manage it. I didn’t think I could so I didn’t. But this year, I’ve had this increasing feeling that law is what I want to do.

And now I’ve finished. I miss it. I’ve realised just how much I loved it. So I will make it work.

So long as I get a place and a good enough degree…

But worry about grades aside. I’ve actually done it! I’ve finished my degree within three years despite all the set backs. I’m not saying that this is what anyone with my conditions should do and it’s absolutely okay to take a break! But I am incredibly stubborn and I am proud that I have done it, despite people not believing I can.

Now here’s to the next adventure! Whatever that may be….

Being true to yourself never goes out of style

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